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Don't Mention the War

I see Mayor Livingstone hasn’t ruled out his congestion cameras remaining as a security measure, even if the charge itself was ever discontinued, which appears rather unlikely. He’s quoted as “There's now an added benefit that we didn't anticipate” and naturally, being Ken, he said much more but I suppose most of us would have guessed that traffic congestion was only part of the argument behind the introduction of more cameras.

There's an argument that these cameras may in fact breach the data act, with, for the first time, a local authority, London in this case, giving itself powers that were previously only available to government. Read what The Register has to say about this and you'll be worried too, I suspect.

Over twenty years ago we had the introduction of the M25. Few people realise that this also concealed a dual purpose, as my wife, who used to work at No10 frequently reminds me. In the event of a biological attack or even insurrection, which was a concern to government in the seventies, London can, of course be ‘quarantined’ very quickly by the military, if there were enough them left in the country at the time.

It seems then that wherever you go this month, you can’t escape the subject of security, whether it is in cyberspace or simply an eye in the sky. Earlier this week I received a ‘Red Alert’ from e-Secure, a very good alerts service I use from New Zealand, close to the edge of the International Date Line. They’re warning of a potential Possible DoS attack against mail relays and have already counted “Well over 70 thousand messages spread over our 4 relays from 100 hosts”. This rather makes me think of what comes after SQL-Slammer and I’m told that this was only ‘”Seven lines short” of the potential for a much nastier and more damaging payload.



We can now sleep safe in our beds, because those brave boys from the DTI have launched a security section on the UK online for business Web site. A sort of ‘How to’ keep ahead of the threat presented by the Internet, together with useful tips about wrapping a Server in brown paper to protect it from the effects of a nuclear explosion or the liberal application of duct-tape to keep viruses out of the network.

At least it’s a start although there was some suggestion that I might write this in a meeting twelve months ago. Since then of course we’ve had Slammer and explosion in Broadband and an 85% increase in the number of vulnerabilities, according to Symantec.

Better late than never then and after all, until now, Britain has never been keen to start a war on time and the threat to business from cyberspace is no different than the search for weapons of mass destruction. Absence of evidence is after all, evidence of absence and “Security”, says Patricia Hewitt, of State for Trade and Industry but not weapons of mass destruction, “has risen up the agenda over recent years, but is still often seen as a technical issue

So now at least, there is a useful campaign to raise levels of awareness on information security risks in addition to the more important message concerning weapons of mass destruction and the threat that both represent to businesses. Unfortunately, it’s more likely, that the SMEs that this message is aimed at, are more likely to go looking for the information on the Website ‘after’ they have been compromised than before and then of course, they have to remember where it is in the first place. It’s easy, http://www.ukonlineforbusiness.gov.uk.

So, a pat on the back to the DTI for pulling-out the proverbial finger before the remaining 40% of businesses in the UK who haven’t been damaged in some way by the Internet are. It’s a start but only that and it may be too little too late.

Did I mention the threat from weapons of mass destruction?

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